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SEAL HUNT: CRISIS OF CRUELTY

The Canadian government has turned a blind eye to horrific and illegal animal abuse during the annual Canadian seal hunt, representatives of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) charged today.

Canada likes to claim the seal hunt is humane, CFHS Executive Director Bob Van Tongerloo said. In the face of such overwhelming evidence, the Canadian government must admit there is a severe problem, and they must act to correct it.”

The groups showed video footage of examples of 260 violations of Canadian law observed by IFAW during the March 2001 seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The violations included 73 instances of hooking, bleeding or skinning a live seal; 76 instances shooting a seal and leaving it to suffer for a prolonged period; and 54 instances of clubbing seals with implements not allowed by law. IFAW recorded illegal acts during the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seal hunts and provided detailed evidence to the government.

To date, no charges have ever been laid.

We recorded 200 probable violations and abuses in 1998, and over 100 in each of 1999 and 2000, IFAW National Director Dr. Richard Smith said. “This year we’ve seen more violations than ever, because sealers know they have nothing to worry about. Based on their track record, the government will simply continue to ignore the cruel reality of the seal hunt, the largest marine mammal hunt in the world.

The Canadian government is currently reviewing the Marine Mammal Regulations, which govern how the seal hunt is carried out. This year, over 200,000 seals have been killed. Most were in the beater stage of development between two weeks and one year of age.

Canada must take this opportunity to set things right, Mr. Van Tongerloo said. They must improve the Regulations, and he must especially begin to enforce them.

The Canadian government has fallen into a pattern of complicity, Dr. Smith said. Government fisheries staff are so intent defending the seal hunt, they can’t admit there is chronic and widespread cruelty.

In fact, the seal hunt has become an arena for unregulated animal abuse, he said.

Written by: International Fund for Animal Welfare


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